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4:38 AM
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A: How do Christians rebut Matt Dillahunty's objection that the resurrection of Jesus is untestable, unfalsifiable and thus unreasonable to believe?

Hold To The RodDillahunty's argument is self-refuting. He commits the error inherent to all forms of verificationism. A simple, jargon-free description of verificationist principles would be: "you shouldn't believe anything that can't be demonstrated by science" (see the link above for a much more in-depth disc...

 
Verificationism is very closely related to scientism -- the definition you give for verificationism would arguably fit just as well as the definition of scientism. And, yes, both are self-refuting. +1
 
"the statement 'you shouldn't believe anything that can't be demonstrated by science'--that statement cannot be demonstrated by science" - that's not really a "belief", as such. It's essentially the fundamental foundation of any basis for rationally believing literally anything. We've made certain observations in the world, we've come up with possible explanations for those observations, we've tried to test those explanations, and we've observed that process often works and produces results. That's science in a nutshell. So there's your basis for believing what science demonstrates. 1/2
Beliefs that can't be demonstrated by science have consistently failed to produce any supporting evidence or reliable results, and if you don't require compelling evidence to believe things, then, to be consistent, you'd need to believe other things that can't be demonstrated by science, which would quickly get you contradicting beliefs (e.g. 2 contradicting religions). So there's your basis for not believing things that science doesn't support. 2/2
"All the enemies of Jesus had to do was produce His body, and Christianity is stopped dead in its tracks" - as in "All the enemies of Jesus had to do was to scour every inch of the entire planet for every possible place his body could've been". Not exactly a reasonable expectation you're putting on them there. Not to mention that his body could've just been destroyed. But also, the question is "IS the resurrection falsifiable". Non-believers often question the verifiability of what's written in the Bible, so the Bible "proving" the resurrection doesn't solve the problem.
 
@NotThatGuy do you believe in cause and effect? If so, that runs counter to your first 2 comments. All of us hold beliefs that cannot be demonstrated by science--we couldn't do science if we didn't. Re reliability of the Gospel of Matthew, see the source I cited in my post. If it's of interest, the disagreement between the Christian Jews & non-Christian Jews in Matthew 28 presupposes people knew where the body was buried. Otherwise there was no need for the Sanhedrin to concede that the body had been moved.
Science doesn't support cause & effect. Cause & effect support science. Don't get me wrong, I love science. I also recognize that science rests on a foundation of philosophy, and that there are some questions that cannot be reasonably answered by a method designed for minimizing type 2 errors.
 
@HoldToTheRod The existence of cause-and-effect has been scientifically demonstrated to be much more likely than the non-existence of cause-and-effect. We've observed certain events frequently or always succeeding other events. We've come up with the possible explanation that cause-and-effect exists. We've tested this by frequently observing certain causal events and checking for the effect, trying to understand the underlying mechanisms that may support or refute cause-and-effect, etc. You may notice that I've basically reused the same science-based structure as in my first comment.
 
@BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft - according to Wikipedia: Verificationism, also known as the verification principle or the verifiability criterion of meaning, is the philosophical doctrine which maintains that only statements that are empirically verifiable (i.e. verifiable through the senses) are cognitively meaningful, or else they are truths of logic (tautologies). - how is that not a claim about what should be regarded as meaningful and what should not? Yes, it's a definition, but a definition of a self-refuting epistemological position.
 
4:39 AM
@HoldToTheRod "All of us hold beliefs that cannot be demonstrated by science" - I wouldn't use those exact words, nor do I claim to be perfect, but I do try to identify any beliefs I hold that aren't the best rational explanation given the evidence I have, and remedy that by finding evidence to support them, or discarding them. You saying "try proving that cause-and-effect is real" suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of science (or perhaps it's just a miscommunication). Science doesn't "prove" things, it just gives us the best/most likely explanation for evidence, and verifies or refutes.
 
@SpiritRealmInvestigator It is not a claim though, it's simply a definition. All logical and belief systems must have some starting principles which cannot be reduced to more basic principles, called axioms. A axiom of verificationism is that all claims must be verifiable. An axiom for any religion is "these particular ancient writings are accurate (but those for other religions are not)".
 
@BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft - oh, I see, by definition you meant it was an axiom. Is there a good reason to accept that axiom though, as opposed to any other axiom?
 
@NotThatGuy I think this was miscommunication rather than misunderstanding (thanks for acknowledging multiple possibilities there, very scientific of you =) ). I did not suggest that science proves things, I suggested that it rests upon philosophical assumptions, and then I provided an example (cause-and-effect). If cause-and-effect is one of the premises we start with, no rule of logical inference allows us to demonstrate cause-and-effect in the conclusion--that would be circular.
The very act of conducting a test presupposes cause-and-effect--otherwise, there is no reason to believe the outcome of conducting the test will be different from the outcome of not running the test
 
@HoldToTheRod We don't need to presuppose cause-and-effect. We just need to see a few things that appear to reliably cause other things, at which point the most reasonable position to take is that cause-and-effect exists (and in our universe, it's not just "a few things": we're constantly learning of new likely causal relationship). If you want to argue for the competing hypothesis that the universe isn't governed by cause-and-effect, then you're going to have a lot of work ahead of you. It's selecting the most likely of a few options, not trying to argue for one in isolation.
 
5:05 AM
Now that this is in chat, I'll also comment on this part: "If Dillahunty believes that nobody in modern times has received direct, personal, Divine affirmation of the reality of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, I would ask: are you sure?"

He has commented on the above, and said things along the lines of: (a) those affirmations can't serve as compelling evidence for anyone else (because they rely on personal experience) and (b) most/all of those affirmations have much simpler explanations that don't require the supernatural. These explanations could include various factors such as natural
 
5:20 AM
"Dillahunty's argument smacks of scientism--the worship of science. It is common for adherents of this dogma to exalt science and mock philosophy" - Dillahunty focuses primarily on philosophy and related disciplines. He rarely speaks about science directly. He speaks about how we can know what is true and uses logical reasoning to debate against Christianity and other religions. Science is a big part of what we know about the universe, so naturally he'd reference that as appropriate.
 
5:58 AM
@NotThatGuy thanks for engaging with my arguments. I'm not arguing against cause & effect--I certainly believe in cause & effect, I would be irrational not to. I'm simply highlighting that cause-and-effect is assumed by every experiment and therefore not a logical inference that can be drawn from any. The reason I brought it up in the first place was to show science's reliance on philosophy (not relying on itself, not on turtles, etc.).
Philosophy makes many unfalsifiable claims, some of which science depends upon
@NotThatGuy here again, whether or not there are grounds for questioning someone's revelatory experience, if he believes people haven't had these experiences, he holds a non-falsifiable belief. Re point a, they can still be compelling evidence to the individual, re point b, there's a big difference between most and all
I think testing hypotheses (and presuppositions) is a very rational thing to do. I found Dillahunty's comments here (and elsewhere) getting into the realm of scientism because he was applying a standard to someone else's beliefs that he was unwilling to apply to his own beliefs. He was treating his beliefs as sacrosanct from his own argument.
 
6:50 AM
@HoldToTheRod "they can still be compelling evidence to the individual" - perhaps, but it would be a moot point in terms of convincing anyone else. And if an atheist, who hasn't had such an experience, doesn't see sufficient evidence to justify a belief in God, then they can't exactly be blamed for not believing in God.

"if he believes people haven't had these experiences, he holds a non-falsifiable belief" - he's willing to accept that people have had experiences where they saw/heard/felt certain things, but he's not willing to accept the explanation those people might give for those expe
 
7:29 AM
@NotThatGuy Are you a solipsist? Do you reject induction?
“"the statement 'you shouldn't believe anything that can't be demonstrated by science'--that statement cannot be demonstrated by science" - that's not really a "belief", as such. It's essentially the fundamental foundation of any basis for rationally believing literally anything.”

Your claim is complete nonsense.
Not only is your claim self-defeating, but practical rationality requires believing many things which are not “demonstrated by science” (see above), itself an ill-defined phrase you conveniently left undefined.
Furthermore, your claim that "It's essentially the fundamental foundation of any basis for rationally believing literally anything" is also complete nonsense. Plenty of people (including judicious epistemologists) rationally believe things without accepting your (false) claim.
And plenty of people rationally believed things before "science" was even reified as a concept (let alone thought to define what could be believed!).
"We've made certain observations in the world, we've come up with possible explanations for those observations, we've tried to test those explanations, and we've observed that process often works and produces results. That's science in a nutshell. So there's your basis for believing what science demonstrates."

I can't tell if you're joking. You're claiming that "your basis for believing what science demonstrates [?]" is that "that process [?] often works [?] and produces results [?]"? Do you even know what the problem of induction is?
@NotThatGuy "The existence of cause-and-effect has been scientifically demonstrated to be much more likely than the non-existence of cause-and-effect."
How so?

"We've observed certain events frequently or always succeeding other events."
Non-sequitur.

"You may notice that I've basically reused the same science-based structure as in my first comment."
Yes, you're just going around in circles because you're unable to support your initial claim.
@BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft False, it's not "simply a definition", otherwise it wouldn't be the subject of dispute. You confuse "definition" with "axiom". They are completely different things. And that axiom is largely rejected by contemporary epistemologists.
@NotThatGuy In short, you seem to have a very naive and ignorant understanding of epistemology. I suggest reading up on Hume and the Duhem–Quine thesis for starters.
 
8:13 AM
"An axiom for any religion is "these particular ancient writings are accurate (but those for other religions are not)"."

This claim is also bunk. Historically, anthropologically, philosophically... I don't understand why you feel obligated the soil the discussion with such falsehoods. Is it ignorance, the desire to deceive others, or some kind of rhetorical venting?
 
 
1 hour later…
9:33 AM
@NotThatGuy Actually, you should start with Descartes' First Meditation, since you seem like the proverbial fish who's unaware of the water it swims in.
 
 
4 hours later…
1:35 PM
I think there is a difference between the self-refuting statement and the resurrection. Prescriptive statements like "you should (not) ..." are never provably, but statements of fact like "it is raining" and "resurrection is possible" are.
Say I create a new theory, Verificationism 2.0, that is the same but only applied to events that may or may not happen or have happened. What then is the defence?
 
 
2 hours later…
3:28 PM
@user76284 I'm just going to dismiss everything you said because it's filled with condescension and insults (which I expect you'll call fallacious, with complete disregard for the fact that doing so is basically asserting that you can never refuse to engage with someone you disagree with nor stop talking to them). If you rewrite all of that in a way that shows basic human decency (which I thought was a pretty important Christian value, but that shows what I know), then I'd be happy to reconsider.
 
3:52 PM
@NotThatGuy: "perhaps, but it would be a moot point in terms of convincing anyone else. And if an atheist, who hasn't had such an experience, doesn't see sufficient evidence to justify a belief in God, then they can't exactly be blamed for not believing in God." - regarding spiritual/mystical/supernatural experiences, this related question might be of interest: How do Christians discern genuine spiritual experiences from hallucinations?
@NotThatGuy - here is my answer to said question.
 
4:27 PM
@NotThatGuy I don't mind agreeing to disagree. I genuinely appreciate the respectful & probative exchange; I'm sorry others were less courteous. FWIW, re Neither they, nor anyone else, has any way to demonstrate or verify that those experiences came from God & we have no record of anything remotely close to such a revelation I'll have to disagree there too. My own belief is rooted in personal revelation.
I can't (and wouldn't want to) compel anyone to believe based on my own testing of God's promises. Rather, my claim is that the process I've followed is repeatable and anyone else could test it for themselves.
@Mark it seems to me that Verification 2.0, by delimiting its use to only some circumstances, is still prescriptive. E.g. you can use this method to evaluate claims of belief made by these people, but not to evaluate claims of belief made by those people. Also, requiring events from the past to be testable in order to be credible would destroy most of the discipline of history (which is usually abductive in nature), and would present significant difficulties for evolutionary biology as well.
I submit that verificationism has been largely abandoned by philosophers precisely because it is untenable.
 
4:59 PM
@NotThatGuy Who said anything about "Christian values"? I just popped in to debunk your nonsense, since I hate seeing people repeat naive and incorrect claims about epistemology and philosophy of science.
 
5:16 PM
@user76284 If you actually "hate" seeing people repeat naive and incorrect claims, then it seems most rational to try to respectfully educate said people (so they don't make similar claims in future) rather than just barraging them with insults.
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I guess it's also not entirely irrational to just try to beat people who disagree with you down with words so that they simply give up trying to share their beliefs or reasoning with anyone. I just can't imagine anyone would want to live in a world where that's the status quo.
 
 
1 hour later…
6:22 PM
Given any "word of knowledge", my train of thought would be as follows:
- Is it actually extraordinary? Having someone call you on a payphone at some random rest stop when no-one knows that you're there would be fairly extraordinary, so I'll give him that.
- Can anyone else verify it? The numbers coming to the girl can be verified by Ken to some extent, but I have no real way to verify what Ken said.
- Is he being sincere? It's not a particularly satisfying conclusion to say he's lying, but that is a simpler explanation that the existence of a supernatural being.
 
6:41 PM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator See above. I can't tell if the previous @-reply worked.
 
6:54 PM
@NotThatGuy - sound like reasonable alternative hypotheses. Here is another testimony: link. What would your train of thought be with this one?
 
@HoldToTheRod I appreciate that you also disapprove of less courteous responses.
Many people (myself included) have had experiences which they considered to be spiritual experiences from God at the time, but have later concluded that these could just be explained by the natural fluctuation of emotional states in humans, or one of the other explanations I listed above. They now no longer believe in God, often after analysing the best evidence and arguments available in support of Christianity.

Now you might dismiss the above as not being true experiences, or say they came up with post-hoc rationalisations for dismissing those experiences. But that raises the question of
 
@HoldToTheRod - I'm also curious about your answer to @NotThatGuy's question. If you wish, you may feel free to post it as answer to How do Christians discern genuine spiritual experiences from hallucinations? :-)
@NotThatGuy - if you are interested in spiritual experiences with unknown scientific explanations, check out my questions on Psychology & Neuroscience Stack Exchange here, here, here & here.
 
7:49 PM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator I'd similarly wonder whether he's being sincere or relaying the experience accurately, and whether God is the only or most reasonable explanation. There were certainly other people in the church, so I'd be interested in how those people would recount what happened (just having there be other people doesn't mean one is recalling what happened accurately).
Maybe the pastor didn't specifically call them out, maybe they stood up and sat down again each time (which would be very noticeable), maybe the pastor said something a lot more vague.

But, if I accept the story exactly as told (which is a big "if"), my most reasonable explanation may be this: the feeling and voice is easily explicable by people just feeling and hearing things sometimes, especially if those feelings support their desires (someone hoping for an experience from God, especially in the emotionally-heightened church environment*, is more likely to manifest an experience that se
They're recalling an experience from "25 or so years" ago. If I try to recall something from a few days or weeks ago, I'd probably get a few key details wrong. So I do also have to wonder to which degree the story has changed since it originally happened.
 
8:04 PM
@NotThatGuy you may be interested (or bothered, not sure) by the comments I shared in [this post](https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/59158/39862). I'll offer an epistemological thought experiment. Let's say--just for sake of argument--there is an omniscient God who does not lie. He can reason in the absolute (He can rule out all competing possibilities). We cannot reason in the absolute.
100% certainty is a philosophically nebulous term. But we can at least compare relative certainties. If there is such a Being as I've described, information learned from Him would be epistemologically
@NotThatGuy you've effectively demonstrated above some of the points I'm making. When pressed on the reality of cause-and-effect, you made an inductive argument (which BTW I think is way better than appealing to verificationism) - the repeatable results increase your confidence level that this is the best explanation.
You've also demonstrated my epistemological point: non-omniscient beings (such as you, me, SpiritRealmInvestigator) cannot reason in the absolute--there will always be a way for someone else to explain away anything we say. I can't tell you how many times people have told me that I'm mistaken (and some of the more aggressive folks will claim I'm straight up lying). I've seen the process of apostasy up close and I'm very familiar with how people go from having faith in God to losing it.
I don't pretend (as a non-omniscient being) to be able to prove to someone else what an Omniscient Being has proved to me; rather, I direct them to the process I have tested (and trust based on induction), so they can find out from the most epistemologically secure source available - the Omniscient source
In general I can't speak for the validity or lack thereof of other people's spiritual experiences
 
8:24 PM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator I do apologize for disappointing (again), but I consider revelatory experiences from God sacred, and--unless instructed otherwise by the Holy Ghost--don't use them as arguments in a debate: 1) if people don't believe the testimonies of scripture they won't believe anything I say either (see Luke 16:31), and 2) being persuaded by God will be far more lasting in significance than being persuaded by me (see 1 Cor 2:4-5)
 
@NotThatGuy - interesting thoughts. As @HoldToTheRod just said, it's interesting to see that there is always enough room for uncertainty and ambiguity to come up with possible alternative hypotheses to explain away any event. I promise this is the last one. This is a testimony involving 4 simultaneous eyewitnesses (a family). What would your train of thought be with this case: youtu.be/0s26wvm8TOY ?
If interested, the owner of the channel has shared many more extraordinary experiences here: youtube.com/c/ChelseaJene/videos
@HoldToTheRod - no problem, it's a completely understandable reason for declining the offer.
 
Re how to know if an experience is legitimate or not: by way of example, my wife & I speak Spanish, our kids do not (very useful as a code language now that our kids know how to spell). If I speak some phony gibberish my kids won't know that I'm not speaking Spanish, but my wife will. Distinguishing the real thing from a fake isn't possible unless you have experience with the real thing. How to come to know the real thing?
Like learning any language, learning the language of the Spirit is a process, not an event. What I can offer to the genuine inquirer is the process I know for myself works -- the same as the invitation given by Philip: come and see (for yourself)
 
@HoldToTheRod - as I was reading your last comment for a moment I thought you were going to share an anecdote of speaking in tongues lol (xenoglossy, to be more precise). It reminded me of this anecdote: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/84284/50422
 
8:56 PM
=)
 
9:22 PM
@HoldToTheRod "if my claim is true (...) that I have learned something by revelation from God, that would be the most secure statement epistemologically possible..." - I agree with most of what you've said there. But the question is whether your claim is true. If you're using revelation from an omniscient truthful God as evidence that said God exists (even to yourself), this is circular reasoning or begging the question: you're supposing the existence of God to prove the existence of God.
I might agree that such an experience may serve as minor indirect evidence for God (given that there are other, far more likely explanations for the experience in my opinion, and some of these explanations are in line with the bulk of scientific evidence we have, e.g. fluctuating emotional states, assuming we didn't just directly scientifically verify said explanation, e.g. delusions).

Humans are naturally inclined to treat emotional experiences as one of the most compelling forms of evidence, but I don't feel this is rationally justified, given that it's proven to be quite unreliable.
 
9:41 PM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator Half-an-hour for a video is getting a bit long (even 10 minutes was already a bit much). I'm rarely up for watching videos that long even of creators I actively support and enjoy watching. If you want to summarise that in a few sentences, I might generally address that. Although in that case I might miss something things said in the video, and my thoughts would probably just be similar to what I've said in response to the other experiences.
Although my initial thoughts about speaking in tongues (based on skipping around the video a bit) is that it's just not something that requires a particularly extraordinary explanation (one just needs to have some natural inclination to make a series of certain sounds, or an ability to come up with such a series and the religious belief that this comes from God - if these correspond exactly to a language someone's never heard before, then we might have something more extraordinary).
Of course there may be a lot more to the video than that.
 
9:56 PM
@NotThatGuy it is not circular to say I believe in someone because they made themself known to me. If you are 100% honest with yourself, you probably believe I am real. I've given you far fewer reasons to believe I'm real than God has given me to believe He is real. Your post makes quite a few assumptions about spiritual experiences...the fact that somebody somewhere said something preposterous in the name of God does not rule out the possibility that someone else said something legitimate...
in the name of God. Imagine applying that to science? No such thing as stellar parallax? Phlogiston? The ether? Many false claims have been made in the name of science, and they have to be evaluated case-by-case, not by grouping them with the most extreme, tangentially-related examples
put yourself in the shoes of a non-believer who's skeptical of everything - I've never met someone who is skeptical of everything - though it would be interesting to do so. people are similarly convinced due to their own personal experiences of the existence of Allah, aliens, ghosts, cults, psychic powers, healing crystals, homeopathy, etc., and, less recently, perhaps Thor and Zeus you are assuming comparability...on what basis? Superficial resemblance?
Given that religion requires (at best I can see) that one hold a belief that one not apply scientific reasoning to - I've specifically presented arguments to the contrary in the post & video linked above. that's exactly the problem with using personal experiences as evidence All evidence is relies on experiential evidence.
how you know...similar personal experiences of other people point them to falsehoods? I haven't affirmed or denied on the validity of other people's experiences. As for my own experiences, I offered an answer previously. I understand if it isn't the answer you wanted =)
*my bad for the typo above, it should have said "all evidence is reliant on experiential evidence." See further discussion here
FWIW, I respect your careful, inquiring approach. Just as you are suggesting I consider my premises, I frequently suggest the same to those of a skeptical mindset. My criticism of Dillahunty in the original post was not that he's dumb or evil--I don't have enough info to make those judgements--but that he is applying a standard to other people's views that he isn't applying to his own. As you surely see religious people do that all the time, I see skeptics do it all the time as well.
 
10:53 PM
@HoldToTheRod If God has spoken to me directly, clearly and identifiably (as in there's something that would uniquely identify God, even if you don't know that God exist) in ways that I can't easily dismiss due to some more plausible explanation, I would be a believer.
But the bulk of the personal experiences I've heard about are not identifiable and involve experiencing some feeling or hearing some voice, which have much more plausible explanations. Experiences that do make some greater claim (of e.g. random hearing a phone number that corresponds to the phone next to the exact person you're looking for at this moment, or of a pastor refencing something which has exclusively happened inside your head) have not been verified to any reasonable degree to believe them to be true as stated, in my opinion.
@HoldToTheRod "Distinguishing the real thing from a fake isn't possible unless you have experience with the real thing" - but someone can believe they've had experiences with the real thing despite it only being a fake. So "you'll know it when you see it" is somewhat self-defeating as an argument. I would argue that you need some clear, consistent and objective way to verify that any experience was the real thing.
From the age of like 10, I've had the same problem with people saying things like "you'll know what love is when you experience it".
 

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